DOJ Closes The Gun Show Loophole | Crooked Media
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April 11, 2024
What A Day
DOJ Closes The Gun Show Loophole

In This Episode

  • The Justice Department announced Thursday, it finalized rules to close a major loophole in gun purchases. Known as “the gun show loophole,” it allowed people to sell firearms online, at gun shows, or in other more informal settings without conducting background checks. The finalized rules are expected to take effect in 30 days. Nick Suplina, senior vice president for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety, explains how the new rules are a big win for gun control.
  • And in headlines: The director of the U.S. Agency for International Development said parts of Northern Gaza are officially experiencing famine; Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson says he’s heading to Mar-A-Lago ; and federal prosecutors charged Shohei Ohtani’s ex-interpreter with stealing more than $16 million from the LA Dodgers star player.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, April 12th and I’m Tre’vell Anderson.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi and this is What a Day, the pod that is ordering ponchos as a protective layer. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, because the cicadas are coming back and this time they are rolling super deep. I’m talking about billions. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I think I got to upgrade the poncho. We’re going full hazmat suit. I might not even leave the house for I don’t even know how long they’re here. It’s not a good situation. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You don’t like bugs? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: No. Absolutely not. [laughter] [music break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, a U.S. official says that parts of northern Gaza are experiencing famine. Plus, Mike Johnson is the latest speaker of the House to head to Mar-A-Lago to meet with former President Donald Trump. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: But first, the Justice Department announced yesterday that it finalized rules to close a major loophole in gun purchases. That loophole allowed people to sell firearms online, at gun shows, or in other more informal settings without conducting background checks on the people who are buying them. And it was commonly known as the gun show loophole. The finalized rules are expected to take effect in 30 days. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Okay, so this is good news. We love to see it. But I also need you to answer this question, why didn’t these folks have to run background checks before what’s going on? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. I mean, it just wasn’t written into federal law. That’s really all it was. Brick and mortar shops have to obtain firearm licenses from the federal government and by extension, run background checks on buyers and register their sales when they make them. But for a long time, there was a big exception for people who claimed that selling guns wasn’t their main source of income. So, you know, people who sold guns at shows, at flea markets, online, less formal settings than an actual gun store, didn’t have to get these federal licenses that require them to do all of these things. But that started to change two years ago when President Joe Biden signed a piece of bipartisan gun control legislation called the bipartisan Safer Communities Act. It was the most significant piece of gun legislation signed into law in roughly 30 years. And part of that new law expanded the kinds of sellers who have to register for these licenses and do all of the things required of license holders, like run background checks on their prospective customers. These new rules announced yesterday just clarify how all of this will be enforced. The Biden administration said that the new rules should apply to around 23,000 dealers. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Okay, great. So what will closing this loophole do to help reduce gun violence? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s a good question. And to help answer it, I spoke with Nick Suplina. He is the senior vice president for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety. And I started by asking him about the significance of closing this loophole. 

 

Nick Suplina: We’ve got a real big problem in this country with private sales of guns that avoid uh background checks. It happens tens of thousands of times a year. And honestly, it’s gotten a lot worse in the age of the internet. The fact is that folks with serious criminal records, domestic abusers, folks that know that they can’t pass a background check, know exactly where to go to get a firearm without a background check. And that’s from these private sellers. Well, this rule addresses the flow of illegal firearms that are often trafficked. And in fact, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms ATF, recently found in a report that in its trafficking cases, four in ten firearms, were actually, you know, went through an unlicensed dealer. It’s unlicensed dealers that this rule is designed to address, to bring into the system to require, they run background checks. And so this rule will be, I think, exceptionally productive at stemming the flow of illegal guns that often end up in our cities. And it’s those illegal guns that are causing the vast majority of gun violence in the United States. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Naturally, the NRA has already issued a statement on X, they are saying that they will use all means available to stop these new rules from going into effect. It is not particularly surprising coming from them, but from a legal perspective. What is your reaction to that, and what, if anything, do you think will come of it? 

 

Nick Suplina: Uh. Well, my reaction is this is not news. You know, the NRA and its ilk have made it quite clear they’ve never met a common sense gun law that they didn’t like. And the fact is is that they’ve gotten even better in recent years at, you know, running to court. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Nick Suplina: Uh. When they’re unhappy. But I actually think we’re on really strong ground here. Um. I think there really is no Second Amendment issue here at all. We’re talking about regulating gun dealers. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Nick Suplina: Not the right to own a firearm for personal protection. Anything can happen as you know, in the courts in the–

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Nick Suplina: –United States in 2024. But this is a–

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Nick Suplina: –really well thought out rule, and it should be on really strong footing legally. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. That is reassuring to hear. I also want to talk to you a little bit about a bill that passed in the Tennessee Senate earlier this week. It would allow teachers and staff to carry concealed handguns on school property. That is an idea that Republicans have increasingly been pushing. They want more guns in the schools. Um. So how is Everytown countering these efforts?

 

Nick Suplina: Well, so every town and through our grassroots arms, moms demand action and students demand action, we’re fighting these efforts tooth and nail in multiple states across the country, including in Tennessee, where there is quite a bit of, you know, a showdown, in the statehouse there. Ideas like this are, giving them the most benefit of the doubt that I can, people are afraid. People are afraid of gun violence in their schools. And they think, wouldn’t it be nice if the science teacher all of a sudden became a Navy Seal, who could, in the middle of a firefight, find the right person to shoot at and hit that target? But the fact is, it’s a fantasy. And what we know is that guns in schools makes everybody less safe. They go off unintentionally, children find them. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Nick Suplina: And it really is a cheap way out, because Tennessee knows what it can do to strengthen its gun laws to stop the next mass shooting before it happens. And we’ve seen the effect of, of guns in schools, and it does not end well and it does not increase safety in the schools. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: No. Absolutely not. Two years ago, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court dealt a devastating decision to gun control advocates in a case known as Bruen. In that case, which was about New York State’s concealed carry law. The court basically created a new rule for gun laws that they have to be quote, “consistent with the nation’s historical tradition. One study found that within a year, more than a dozen state and federal gun laws had been invalidated in whole or in part by that decision. Since then, how has Everytown, you know, had to change and adapt its legal strategy in order to keep effectively fighting for gun control measures? 

 

Nick Suplina: Yeah, it’s a great question, and it’s a real bad case. Bruen was wrongly decided, and it’s a dangerous decision, not just for what it invalidated. A century old New York concealed carry law that was doing a lot to make New York one of the safest states in the country in terms of gun violence. But the history test you mentioned, what the court basically did was say, we got to look back. Maybe it’s to the founding, maybe it’s to reconstruction and find analogous laws on the books. But what we’ve seen in the lower courts is like, it’s just a Rorschach test for the judge’s feelings on guns. If you squint enough and you want to find a reason to invalidate the law. You can. I will say the good news is this. I mean, one we’re going to fight no matter what. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Nick Suplina: Two, we are winning in a number of these cases, district courts are all over the place. The appellate courts, by and large, are coming out you know, the right way. But, you know, we’ve already been up to the Supreme Court once since Bruen. And there are other cases in the in the pipeline as well. So the Supreme Court needs to clean up this mess. It made it in Bruen. But we’ll keep fighting until it does. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. This month also marks the 25th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting. We have seen so many awful school shootings since then. So what I want to ask you is, where is the movement to prevent these kinds of mass shootings in schools now? And where do you see hope that things are changing? 

 

Nick Suplina: Yeah, it’s incredible that it’s been 25 years. And over that time, there’s not a whole lot to point to that gives you that sense of hope, that sense that we’re going to do something differently. But when I look at the last ten years, let’s say, so the mark of another mass school shooting at Sandy Hook, the NRA showed up in Washington. It ran circles around politicians, Democrats and Republicans. We couldn’t get every Democrat in the Senate to vote for a simple background checks bill, and we didn’t get a single Republican in favor of it. Ten years later, we have a mass movement for social change in the gun violence prevention movement. We have passed hundreds of laws across the country in state houses. In 2022, we passed the bipartisan Safer Communities Act with 65 votes in the Senate. I mean, what’s the last issue you’ve seen get 65 votes, including 15 Republicans. So, you know, change is happening. It’s not always as visible to everybody. And I will also say it’s not happening fast enough or big enough. And there’s just no there’s no arguing that point. But it is happening. And the gun violence prevention movement has never been stronger. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That was my conversation with Nick Suplina. He is the senior vice president for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety. We’ll have more on all of this very soon, but that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Samantha Power, the director of the US agency for International Development, or USAID, says that part of northern Gaza is officially experiencing famine. A UN backed agency said famine was imminent in Gaza and could begin as early as March. During a House committee hearing on Wednesday, Power said famine has now set in because sufficient humanitarian aid has not been delivered to the millions who need it. Take a listen. 

 

[clip of Samantha Power] In northern Gaza, the rate of malnutrition prior to October 7th was almost zero, and it is now one in three kids. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Many have used the state of the crisis to call for a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas. And though there are negotiations in progress, there’s still no deal. According to The New York Times, international negotiators proposed a six week ceasefire during which Hamas would release another 40 hostages. But Hamas officials say they don’t have enough hostages to meet the terms of the swap. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Republican speaker of the House Mike Johnson is heading to Mar-A-Lago today. He and former President Donald Trump will announce what they are calling a, quote, “major announcement on election integrity.” USA Today’s reporting says that it likely has to do with banning non-citizens from voting, but non-citizens are already not allowed to vote. The meeting comes after a particularly tumultuous week for the speaker, whose popularity among his own party is tanking. Johnson is a staunch supporter of Trump, so this visit seems to be an attempt to show unity of the party behind the presumptive GOP nominee. You can’t see our eyes rolling about Johnson’s kiss the ring moment over here, but just know that they are. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Very much so. Ralph Yarl, the Missouri teenager who was shot in the head last year for ringing the wrong doorbell, gave his first in-depth interview since the shooting a year ago. You’ll remember that Yarl, a Black teen, was on his way to pick up his two younger brothers from a friend’s house in Kansas City, when he mistakenly rang the doorbell of 85 year old Andrew Lester’s home. Lester, a white man, shot Yarl in the skull and the arm. Lester told police he shot the then 16 year old because he was scared. The incident sparked national outrage. Yarl, who’s now 17, told NBC that he feels lucky to be alive, but he’s had a hard time processing what’s happened to him. 

 

[clip of Ralph Yarl] It is a constant uphill battle with people dismissing you and disregarding your story as something that is guaranteed to happen to just children around the world. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But it hasn’t been all bad news. Months after he was shot, Yarl joined Missouri’s All-State band, playing the bass clarinet, something he never thought he could do because of his brain injury. Meanwhile, Lester appeared in court earlier this week and pleaded not guilty to charges of first degree assault and armed criminal action. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: In other news, O.J. Simpson has died. The NFL great was infamously acquitted in 1995 for the killings of his ex-wife and her friend. His family shared the news on X, Thursday that he died of cancer. O.J. was known not only for football. He was an actor and a sportscaster, but it was that 1994 televised car chase with the LAPD in a white Bronco that made him one of the most famous people in America. This was five days after the killings. O.J. was riding in the backseat, threatening to harm himself, and 95 million Americans tuned in to watch. Then there was the wall to wall coverage of the murder trial, which popularized court on TV and was later dissected in several TV series and documentaries. The legal teams involved in the cases became household names like prosecutor Marcia Clark and defense attorneys Johnnie Cochran and Robert Kardashian. O.J. was 76 years old. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And finally, more light has been shed on the sports betting scandal involving the interpreter of Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani. Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani’s interpreter and close friend, was charged on Thursday with federal bank fraud after an investigation uncovered that he allegedly stole more than $16 million from the baseball star. Investigators say that Mizuhara had direct access to Ohtani’s bank account and used that money for gambling. He allegedly pretended to be Ohtani on the phone to approve large wire transfers. Here’s U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada announcing the charges against Mizuhara yesterday. 

 

[clip of Martin Estrada] Mr. Ohtani is considered a victim in this case. There is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Ohtani authorized the over $16 million of transfers from his account to the bookmakers. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mizuhara is expected to appear in federal court in the coming days. If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: This is a wild, wild story, and it has taken quite a turn since it first came out that, you know, he was facing some gambling debts. Did Shohei Ohtani actually offer to pay and cover it for his friend? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: How much money you making that you don’t notice sixteen million dollars?

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Sixteen million dollars. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Gone. Bye bye. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, Lord. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Wild, wild. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Don’t steal $16 million from a friend and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And if you are into reading and not just news about the incoming cicadapocalypse like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter, check it out and subscribe at crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.

 

[spoken together] And bug spray won’t protect you. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I might hibernate. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Just got to stay at the house it look like. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Is that what we gotta do? [laugh]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: We might be burrowing. It might be quarantine round two. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, my Lord. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s fine. We’re prepared. Uh we’ll get a puzzle, watch some bad TV. It’s fine. We know the drill. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] [sigh]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Erica Morrison, Michell Eloy, Greg Walters, and Julia Claire. Our showrunner is Leo Duran and our executive producer is Adriene Hill. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. 

 

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